There are many questions that you might be asked in a job interview. While the questions themselves will vary, the thrust or point of the questions asked is identical; get to know you enough to find if you’re the best candidate. The best candidate in their mind might be the one who fits in with the existing team chemistry, the one who will be able to do the job with the least amount of training or perhaps the one who will bring creativity and innovation.
As the job applicant, you may say this is exactly why job interviews are so stressful; you’re not sure what they’re looking for which makes it impossible to present yourself in the best possible way; and you know you could if you could just figure that out.
So the questions I’m putting down here are not guaranteed to be the ones you’ll get asked. There’s no way someone could guarantee such a list. These will give you a good sense though of what you might be asked. If you can answer these strongly with examples from your past to provide proof of your skills and experience, you’ll be well prepared.
So, can you? Here goes:
Tell me about yourself.
What is your understanding of the job functions for the position you are applying to?
How does your combination of education and experience uniquely qualify you for this job?
In what area(s) would you need training and support to become fully productive if hired?
How would you define customer service excellence and give an example from your past when you’ve provided it.
Share a weakness of yours as it relates to the job and what have you done to improve on this?
Share with us two local and two international stories in the news at the moment.
Describe your experience working productively in a group or team setting.
How would your previous supervisor describe your performance?
Please explain this 3 year gap on your résumé.
Do you have a criminal record? (Sure it’s illegal to ask, but if it is, you’ve got to say something!)
What are your salary expectations?
Tell us about an experience you’ve had working with a co-worker who was difficult to get along with.
Describe the steps you’ve taken to resolve a conflict.
Describe your filing system.
Which is more important, a clock or a compass?
Describe your ideal supervisor.
You’ve got 45 minutes to convince me you’re the right person to hire. Go!
It’s 10 minutes to quitting time and someone has just arrived who will need at least 20 to serve. What do you say and do?
What are the qualities you’d ideally look for in a co-worker?
What qualities annoy you most in others?
Tell us about a time when you made a mistake. What did you do?
What comes to mind when I ask you to share your proudest moment?
Describe your personal availability and willingness to work a variety of shifts.
When I call your references, what will I learn about you that might surprise me?
Are you bondable?
Give me an example of a conflict you’ve had with a co-worker or supervisor and the steps you took to resolve the situation.
Where do you see yourself in 2-5 years?
What are your future plans education-wise?
What are you reading at the moment?
Where do you stand on the issue of __________?
When can you start?
Describe a recent experience in which your patience was severely tested.
So how did you do? I suppose you may have wondered at some of the questions; why they’d ask this one or is that one even legal? If you can figure out the purpose of the question asked; what the question is designed to get at, it makes it easier to respond in such a way that the interviewer(s) are impressed. If on the other hand you’re stumped and can’t figure out the purpose or reason they’d ask, you might flounder a bit which could shake your confidence.
These are of course only a small sample of what you might be asked. The best way to prepare for the real questions you’ll actually be asked is to go over the job posting or ad. Highlight exactly what skills and experience as well as look at the job responsibilities, (what you’d be doing) and you’ll predict with some certainty what they’ll ask.
If you read over the list here and don’t understand the purpose of a question, feel free to comment and ask. While there may be an odd one asked of you, my advice is not to dwell on the one weird question; focus on answering the questions you can prepare for, and do your best with the off-the-wall one you couldn’t have predicted. That question is really designed to see you think on your feet. So for example, “Tell me a story.” You might think, “About what?” The point of the question though is to see how quickly you get your brain in gear and just do it, and what does it show or say about you in terms of what you share.
Oh and please, feel free to share questions you’ve had asked of you or that you ask of applicants if you interview. Each of the questions I’ve provided here have actually been asked in the real world. So come on, share a little!